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Fast-paced, highflying SailGP blows into Halifax for weekend competition

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Ten countries, including Canada, each with teams of six sailors, are battling head-to-head on Halifax Harbour this weekend for the Canadian debut of SailGP (Grand Prix).

"This is possibly the best venue we've been to date," said Canada SailGP captain Phil Robertson. "As long as the wind blows and the sun keeps shining, everyone who comes from around the world will be blown away."

Each sailing team races with F50 hydrofoil catamaran sailboats and reach speeds of more than 100 km/h.

"These boats are fast, because they are foiling," said Robertson. "Hydrofoils under the water lift the boats out of the water, and it just decreases all the drag."

"You have to see these boats for real to believe it. It’s almost not sailing," said SailGP Denmark marketing manager Jonno Turner. "They use the wind but they move fast, in a completely different way."

SailGP’s Halifax weekend schedule features six races, as teams compete in an ongoing program that culminates with a global championship this summer.

"Each event is its own standalone event," said Canada SailGP team manager Jennifer Hall. "Then we have a season leaderboard at the end of each event, and we see where we place on that. Everything is building up to the SailGP grand final in San Francisco in July."

Tickets for the Halifax event sold out with thousands expected to attend, including visitors from around the world.

Downtown Halifax Business Commission CEO Paul Mackinnon said that is good news for a city that relies on spring and summer tourism.

"We are well on our way to pre-pandemic tourism levels, and we’re getting back on track to where we were in 2019," MacKinnon said. "Big events like this can only help that."

SailGP organizers hope to continue to grow the sport in Canada and bring this event back to Halifax as soon as 2025.

"It’s a great testament to the impressive growth of our championship to see so much interest from coast to coast in hosting the first Canada Sail Grand Prix event,” said SailGP CEO Sir Russell Coutts.

Coutts adds that after just one event, they're already seeing support for the Canadian team from fans around the world.

"I know that Canada is a nation with a passion for high-level sport and I look forward to what should become an outstanding annual event on our championship calendar," he said.

"In Canada, specifically speaking, this sport has gone to the roof in popularity since this team hit the water for the first time two years ago," Robertson explained.

This is the 11th event of SailGP's season schedule. Teams arrived in Halifax after recently competing in Bermuda, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. 

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